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Chapter Five

THE father and sons and sons' wives were now ready to set out
for the capital. It was to be a different journey from the one they
had taken previously. Their literary ambitions had been vindicated,
their success in official careers was almost assured. Asf they were
moving their home to the capital, they took the voyage down the
Yangtse instead of going by land through the north-west. It would be
a journey of eleven hundred miles, about seven hundred miles by
water and four hundred by land, beginning somfe time in October and
ending in February of the next year. There was no great hurry, and
as the women were with them, they took their time, drinking and
playing cards while on the boat and enjoying the beautiful scenery on
the way. The brothers' wives had never been outside their home town.
They knew they were travelling with chinshih scholars for their hus-
bands, but they could hardly be aware that they were in a family of
three prose masters of the dynasty, one of them a major poet. The
brothers made verses all the way—but all scholars versified in those
days, to record a scene or a sentiment, as we write letters today. Tseyu's
bride came from an old family of Szechuen, the Shihs. Young Mrs.
Su Tungpo was by position and age the senior. She was the practical,
sensible, able sort, with whom it was easy for her sister-in-law to get
along. Besides, the old father, the head of the family, was with them;
nothing short of obedience and complete harmony would be con-
sidered good form. She saw that of the three men, her husband was
decidedly the excitable, irrepressible, talkative one. Tseyu was taller,
thin, .and not as robust as his brother, while Tungpo, born with very
prominent cheek-bones and a well-proportioned jaw, was handsome
and had a more - muscular build. With them was her baby boy, the
first grandson «of the Su family, born within the year. That was all
good and proper. It would have been slightly embarrassing if the baby
had been born a year earlier, for it would have meant that the young
poet had indulged himself during the first year of mourning for his
mother." The Sung neo-Confucianists might look askance at such a
regrettable lapse from austere filial piety.

Embarking at Kiachow, whe;re the Great Stone Buddha was, the
young couples set out on a voyage of hope; keen, enthusiastic, con-
fident. "Leaving our home town far behind, we look forward to the
vast horizon beyond." -Szechuen was the largest province of China,
the' size of Germany, and closely connected with the history of the
Three Kingdoms. It took them a month to come to the eastern border